For Pete's Sake

George Brett proud he avoided being ‘noogied’ by Nolan Ryan in his career

This is the kind of noogie that George Brett is glad he never got. Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox after Ventura charged the mound on Aug. 4, 1993 in Arlington, Texas.
This is the kind of noogie that George Brett is glad he never got. Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox after Ventura charged the mound on Aug. 4, 1993 in Arlington, Texas. The Associated Press

The Royals are playing split-squad games this coming Friday and Saturday, and the games will be in two states.

The Royals have games at their home stadium here, but also will face the Rangers in two games in San Antonio at the Alamodome. It’s an annual event in San Antonio and is dubbed “Big League Weekend.”

As part of the festivities, Hall of Famers from both teams will take part in a special event on Thursday. George Brett and Nolan Ryan, who both entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, will answer questions from fans.

“Somebody told me this, I don’t know if it’s true, but they said you faced him more than anybody that he ever faced,” Brett said. “I don’t know how many hits I got off him, I don’t know how many times I struck out. But it was always a challenge.”

Indeed, Brett’s 115 plate appearances were the most against Ryan (historical note: John Mayberry is second with 109).

Brett batted .287 against Ryan (29 for 101) with 14 walks, 18 strikeouts, four doubles and two triples. Solid numbers against one of the best ever.

Brett never hit a homer against Ryan, and he also was never hit by a pitch.

Those two are not unrelated.

“He never buzzed me,” Brett said. “I never hit a home run off of him. I was smart. I didn’t want to look like Robin Ventura, getting noogied.”

That is in reference to the infamous Ryan/Ventura confrontation in 1993 when Ventura charged the mound after being hit by a Ryan pitch. Ventura was pummeled.

Brett said he and Ryan never crossed paths outside of when they faced off on the field.

“It’s funny, I played against Nolan for years back when he was with the Angels and then all those years he was with the Texas Rangers, and never said one word to him,” Brett said. “Played in All-Star games, never said one word to him. We were inducted into the Hall of Fame together in 1999, said a few words to him.”

Ryan had seven no-hitters in his career and a record 5,714 strikeouts, most in major-league history.

“He had no-hit stuff everytime he pitched. He had what, seven no-hitters? It was a challenge,” Brett said. “Any pitcher that you face in Major League Baseball has got good stuff. That’s why he’s in the big leagues. But when you face a guy like Nolan Ryan, you’ve got to be on your ‘A Game,’ you can’t take a day off, and I never did. It was always a challenge.

“Did I ever hit a home run off of him? No. Came close a couple times, I think. I’m kind of glad I didn’t because he didn’t like that very much.”

No homers and no punches? That’s a fair trade for Brett.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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